In 2019 the InterLaw Diversity Forum, supported by the SRA, signed an exclusive MOU with the American Bar Association (“ABA”) to adapt the ABA’s US Model Diversity Survey (which is now in its fourth year) for use in the UK. In 2020 we solidified this arrangement with the ABA by signing a further exclusive “Collaboration Agreement”. The working title for our UK adaptation is the “InterLaw Diversity Forum UK Model Diversity Survey”.
The UK Model Diversity Survey (“UK MDS”) is a supplier diversity questionnaire which corporate and financial institution signatories (“client signatories”) require all their panel firms/legal service providers to fill out. The purpose of the survey is to serve as the standard for law firms’ reporting of their diversity metrics. The benefits the survey has are data uniformity, time efficiency, and trending year over year in aggregate and for individual firms.
The survey is more sophisticated than what most clients are currently asking from their firms. In-house attorneys and their teams frequently don’t understand or have visibility over the internal workings of law firms so don’t know the right questions to ask. The Model Diversity Survey asks the right questions.
The Model Diversity Survey can help clients shape their decisions about allocation of legal work to law firms/legal suppliers by creating greater transparency around diversity, inclusion, and culture in law firms. Microsoft has developed an online dashboard to be used by the clients to make the data collected by the Model Diversity Survey truly accessible and useable. So instead of reams of tabular data sitting with procurement only, GCs and their teams can now easily dig in to compare their panel firms, including comparing their stats over time, if they wish to consider performance around D&I when handing out work.
The Model Diversity Survey will also assist law firms in providing uniform, thorough, and accurate information to their corporate and financial institution clients. Further, it will streamline D&I data collection for law firms by allowing firms to provide a single, uniform set of data to multiple clients. Firms are currently asked for a different set of diversity data, cut a different way, from every client who collects it.
About the Microsoft Dashboard
Microsoft has developed an online dashboard to make the data collected by the UK MDS more accessible and useable. This intuitive platform enables the client signatories to drill deep into the data and to draw out information and insights which might not be possible when viewing such large amounts of data in a tabular format. Clients will be able to make like-for-like comparisons between their panel law firms/legal service providers, as well as to compare data over time and measure their panel firms’ progress.
Current Status of the Project
We have assembled a working group of general counsel, senior in-house lawyers, D&I experts, and law firm representatives to advise us on the project. We have adapted the ABA's 2021 version of the US Model Diversity Survey into a UK version with input from the SRA and the working group. We are also working with the same suppliers as the ABA to develop the infrastructure and systems to launch the UK version. Our aim is to launch the project for Q2 2021 and we are currently on track for this date.
Bolt-on Programmes to the UK MDS
Recent panel events discussing the UK MDS
Download an overview of the UK MDS for client signatories or for law firms